An offering with St Paul (I Corinthians 11: 23-26). Lord, I offer you my heart and mind, praying that I may faithfully pass on the message of love that I have received from you in the Eucharist and the washing of feet. Amen. Tom Shufflebotham SJ
Entering into prayer
Choose a way to enter into prayer from earlier in Lent or any method that you prefer.
There is a choice of readings given, for the text of the other readings see your Bible, Universalis, or missal.
Exodus 12: 1–8, 11–14; Psalm 115: 12-13, 15-18 r. cf. 1 Corinthians 10: 16; 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26; John 13: 1-15
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
Food for thought
Today we enter the Sacred Triduum, the climax of our Lenten journey, and the readings and the ceremonies are almost too rich to digest; tonight’s service is a reminder of the institution of the precious gift of the Eucharist, which is a gift on more levels than we can easily grasp.
Suggestions for Prayer
In your prayer today, you may find yourself led in several different directions. Here are four possibilities. First, the reading from Exodus takes us back to the greatest feast of the year for our Jewish forebears, and reminds us of that great act of deliverance from their oppressors. You might want to pray about what is currently oppressing you, and what you are asking the Lord to do about it. Secondly, the psalm is a song of praise for God’s unshakable fidelity: “the Lord will bless the house of Israel…Praise the Lord”. Here you might prayerfully reflect on what you and your community are giving thanks for, this evening.; and make your own the line from Paul that is our response: “the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing in Christ’s blood?”
Then, thirdly, there is the reading from 1 Corinthians; Paul is very cross because of their divisions, and to correct them he reminds them of what Jesus did on this very night, before he died, taking bread, giving thanks, and saying (with unmistakable reference to his death) “this is my body for you”, and likewise with the cup “this cup is the new covenant in my blood”. We hardly understand what he is saying, but dimly we grasp that this is for us, and that it is costly. “As often as you eat this loaf and drink the cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death – until he comes”. Does that give you a way into prayer on this rich night?
Finally, you might choose to gaze in astonishment at the acted parable with which John has chosen to begin his account of the Last Supper, not the institution of the Eucharist, but Jesus, to Peter’s horror, performing for all the disciples, including Judas, an act that was thought too lowly even for slaves to do, the washing of their feet. And the evangelist explains what is going on: “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end”. The name of the game, you see, is love.
How are you going to respond today?
How might tonight’s rich liturgy affect the way you are going to celebrate these three days? Spend some time on reflecting how it would feel to have your feet washed, and consider opportunities to wash the feet of others. How will it change the rest of your life?
Image for the Day
- What do you see in this image?
- Can you imagine what it was like for the disciples to be there?
- Imagine the scene....
Examen (review of prayer)
If you are going to church tonight you may take some time to reflect there instead of saying an examen at home, or you may prefer to pray the examen at some other time, as you feel works best for you.